A silvery green olive grove set in the red soil of a Palestinian village is a crime scene - testament to a practice so sensitive that it is spoken of only in whispers.
One night in late November, Rasha Abu Ara, a 32-year-old mother of five, was beaten to death and strung from a gnarled tree branch as a gruesome badge of “family honor” restored.
The woman’s alleged sin was adultery, and her killer was either her own brother or husband, security sources told Reuters. Both are behind bars while an investigation continues.
Her murder brought to 27 the number of women slain in similar circumstances in Palestinian-run areas this year, according to rights groups - more than twice last year’s victims.
The rise has led Palestinians to question hidebound laws they say are lax on killers, as well as a reluctance to name and shame in the media and society, which may contribute to a feeling of impunity among perpetrators.
“It feels like something that belongs to another time,” said one young man in Aqqaba who refused to give his name, the first hints of a beard on his chin. “But, it’s standard.”
A week after the crime, Aqqaba mayor Jamal Abu Ara, who is a member of the victim’s extended family, and his brothers, sat in their village home, smoking cigarettes and choosing their words carefully.
“This act has no religion - it comes from closed, tribal thinking left over from an age of ignorance. People here are walking around in a haze; they want to know who did it and why. Of course, it’s the first time it’s happened here,” he said.
His brother added: “Islam requires you have four witnesses to prove the act of adultery.
“It’s not right what happened. Especially since if it were a man, some would just say ‘boys will be boys’,” he said.
A representative of the slain woman’s family declined to speak to Reuters.
“Honor killing” is a social menace that occurs throughout the Middle East, though precise figures are often elusive.
In neighboring Jordan, for example, a Cambridge University survey of attitudes among young people published in June found that a third of respondents agreed with the practice.
The researchers attributed the result to low levels of education and “patriarchal and traditional world views, emphasis placed on female virtue and a more general belief that violence against others is morally justified.”
The study estimated an average of 15 to 20 such killings occur every year in Jordan, with a population of around 6.3 million, compared to around 4 million in Palestinian lands.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر